by Steve Anderson
Originally from Seattle, Washington, Jack Mackenroth graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a double degree in Fine Arts and Sociology. He moved to New York in 1991 to attend the Parsons School of design where he studied Fashion Design. After graduating, Jack opened a West Village menswear store called ‘Jack’. There he showcased new designers along side upscale brands such as Gaultier Junior, Diesel and John Richmond. In 1997 he went to work for Tommy Hilfiger, designing knits for the women’s line and doing fashion illustrations for the entire division. From there he went back into menswear designing for the Slates brand under the Levis umbrella. Before appearing on Season 4 of Project Runway he was the Design Director at Weatherproof Active wear for 4 years.
Beyond his professional achievements Jack has also achieved national recognition as a competitive swimmer. He has 3 All-American titles to his name and set a national record in the summer of 2006 in the breaststroke leg of the 4 x 50 meter medley relay. The same summer he finished 12th in the 50 meter breaststroke at the Masters World Championships in Stanford California. He still competes and is currently training for US nationals 4 months from now in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jack was also voted Compete Magazine’s 2012 Athlete of the Year.
As a fitness and fashion model through the 1990′s, Jack appeared in such magazines as Paper, DNR, Men’s Fitness, Men’s Journal, Genre, Blue and several others.
Jack has always been very open about his positive HIV status. Since his diagnosis in 1990 he has tried to combat the stigma of HIV by living honestly and being a role model through professional and athletic achievements. Jack has now lived for more years as HIV positive than he had as HIV negative. He believes that public visibility educates and eventually saves lives. He has worked with HIV/AIDS charities such as God’s Love We Deliver and Project Open Hand, which deliver meals to homebound people with AIDS. Each year his swim team (Team New York Aquatics) organizes a benefit event that raises over $25,000 annually for local AIDS charities. He hopes to further disprove the myths about HIV throughout his experience on Project Runway and beyond. Jack’s video for a project called, “My Letter to HIV” is a touching and powerful message about what he would say to HIV if he could talk to it. This video is at the end of this post and I hope you’ll take a moment to watch it.
Currently Jack is developing his own line of men’s dress shirts and dress pants and hopes to expand into all aspects of men’s sportswear. He is also working on a memoir about his life experiences. Most recently he had a cameo in the new Sex and the City movie with all the girls. The runway is just beginning.
Jack’s video for a project called, “My Letter to HIV”: